For years, the concept of people having animals accompany them on a flight for ‘emotional support’ has been a thing.
However, when in 2017 Marlin Jackson needed 28 stitches after said ‘support’ dog lunged at his face and attacked, people began to realize that this maybe isn’t the amazing idea it once sounded.
Emotional support animals that lack the training to handle such an environment shouldn’t be allowed to take the same role as they once did – poor Mr. Jackson found that out the hard way. They even attack other service animals and can even bring an end to their careers helping people.
Animals are a great thing for emotional support, but they need to be managed in a way that makes them genuinely safe. Many people risk the safety of themselves and others will ill-disciplined animals that are boarding flights with them and causing havoc.
Emotional support animals are now available everywhere from the shops to restaurants, but they can be far more problematic than most people will realize. The vast majority of emotional support animals that manage to get in ahead of the no-animals-allowed signs are dogs.
However, it’s not uncommon for a dog to start biting, barking, or even attacking people in these confined and tight spaces. Indeed, dog-related incidents in airlines are on the rise.
The problem is two-fold. One, these dogs are causing problems for people in locations that they really have no right to be. Two, these dogs actually put needless pressure on people who actually do need their dog such as people who need guide dogs or have trained emotional support animals.
With the laws around what is and is not an emotional support animal being increasingly confusing and blurred, many people struggle with the laws.
In fact, many times the people making the decision about consistency and who is and is not allowed in aren’t even qualified to be making such a choice.
While some countries make it clear what can and cannot be seen as an emotional support animal, other countries – like the USA – are a touch more blurred in what they allow.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can have a service dog with you so long as you have physical, sensory, psychiatric, or mental issues. However, these doggos need to be trained in a way that allows them to actually help the individual.
Many of these dogs, though, are simply not in that position – hence why you end up with situations like Mr. Jackson.
The time has finally arrived for change to come, though. Stringent regulations are being taken to the Department of Justice, with the Department of Transport opening up a public comment period of 60-days from the 5th February 2020.
This would mean that emotional support animals would once again be registered as pets, and this would mean that only service dogs would be allowed to have free cabin access.
This is very important and could put an end to a variety of incidents that have taken place in the last few years regarding ‘emotional support’ animals not having the emotional maturity to handle their present situation.
While this will surely drag on for years to come, it’s safe to say that change is needed. With the needless increase in aviation incidents involving what are essentially pets, it’s time for a change.